Can’t write too much about Terrence Ross (far right), who stole the show tonight. What a performance. When the sixth man is scoring 25 points and collecting four steals, you know you have something special.
But then, the Huskies have always known that about Ross, their 6-foot-6 freshman who led them in their 87-69 win over Oregon tonight. These are the games that turn heads and create a national buzz. Sure it was just the Ducks, who are winless in the Pac-10.
Consider, however, Ross scored 18 points last week at USC and he’s averaging 16.7 points in three Pac-10 games.
Coach Lorenzo Romar paid him a high compliment comparing Ross to Brandon Roy and Spencer Hawes in terms of raw basketball talent.
“In terms of just his talent alone, right up there with Brandon Roy,” Romar said. “Brandon Roy had signed when we got here. Spencer Hawes is really talented. To be able to do what he does at 6-11. The way he passes and shoots and all that, he’s really talented. Terrence is up there. He’s up there in the top couple.”
The biggest question the past 24 hours was who was going to replace injured guard Abdul Gaddy?
Ross more than offset the loss of Gaddy. He didn’t start, but he was a catalyst when the Huskies turned a 51-51 tie into an 84-63 lead. He led UW with a career-best scoring output and its obvious his defense has improved. In the first half, he intercepted a pass for a layup an he had an emphatic block on Joevan Catron (above, left).
“I knew that everybody on the bench was going to have to step up,” Ross said. “Gaddy was a big part of our team, and we’re going to have to take on a little more of a load. I think we did pretty well.”
With Ross emerging as a primary scorer, the Huskies have changed recently albeit slightly. Romar implicitly trusts Ross and has given him the green light. Tonight he attempted 18 shots in 27 minutes. For the season, Ross has 92 attempts and has played 205 minutes.
He’s averaging a shot every 2.2 minutes, which is the highest frequency among the Huskies.
Ross entered the game not terribly confident in his shot and he still finished with 25 points. Pretty good.
“At the beginning of the game I didn’t really feel my shot,” he said. “The coaches said we were taking too many contested threes and we needed to attack the basket. I think that’s when I got my game going. I got to the basket and they just kinda played off me. Then I hit a couple and had the chance to go right back to the basket.
MORE NOTES, QUOTES AND OBSERVATIONS:
— This is the second straight outing in which Isaiah Thomas has an amazing game as a floor general and finishes with nine assists. The league stats aren’t compiled yet as I write this, but he’s probably the Pac-10 leader in assists. Thomas did a little of everything. He converted 7 of 14 shots for 20 points, which gives him sole possession at No. 10 on UW’s all-time 20-point game list. He also had six rebounds and three steals, which negated three turnovers.
Romar said Thomas is more of a triple threat when he’s playing point guard because he can drive, shoot or pass.
After the game, Thomas was downright giddy about his breakaway dunk (left) late in the second half, which was the first slam in his three-year Husky career. He had a bet with Gaddy about who would dunk first. Thomas lost. Still, he was excited and in old-school fashion he did a little raise the roof motion to the crowd after the dunk.
“It was my first dunk,” Thomas said. “I have been waiting a long time for it. I always tell people, “If I get a fast break, I’m going to dunk one, but I’ve been too scared to miss. But this time I said, “Well, oh well. I’m just going to try.”
Said Romar: “It was pretty sweet. The first one where he dunked in his career here. He got up. It was good. It wasn’t just a squeeze where he got it over the top.”
— Matthew Bryan-Amaning had his hands full defensively with Catron. The Oregon big man finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds, but that’s not a direct reflection of Bryan-Amaning’s defense. Many times he had a hand in Catron’s face and the 6-foot-6 Duck forward drained improbable long shots, including a three-pointer. Early on Bryan-Amaning stuffed Catron twice, but in the end UW had to rely on a zone to slow him down. Bryan-Amaning made six of 12 shots for 13 points. he also had a team-leading eight rebounds.
— Maybe we should start calling Scott Suggs the Quiet Assassin because he constantly flies under the radar. Tonight he played a career high 28 minutes and scored 13 points. Suggs was amazing behind the arc knocking down three of five three-pointers. Perhaps his best offensive play came in the first half when he drove in the lane – it looked like he traveled – and finished with a off-balance layup in traffic. Hadn’t seen that before from the spot-up jump shooter.
Said Romar: “He’s not really flashy, but what Scott is doing now … sometimes it takes guys a little longer. He is quietly maturing himself. He has quietly become a very sound defensive player and he makes shots. He’s a basket maker. When he drove tonight in the middle of the floor and scored a layup, he’s capable of doing those things. He’s one as he gets more minutes, we’ll probably see more of that.”
— Venoy Overton started in place of Gaddy, but you got the feeling after talking to Romar that Overton could return to the bench. Romar wouldn’t commit to this starting lineup and said decisions were made for Oregon, which presses defensively and puts a lot of pressure on the guards. Against a bigger lineup, Romar probably starts someone else. Overton had a solid outing, but at times he appeared out of sync with Thomas and a couple of passes went sailing into the front-row seats. He finished with three turnovers, five assists, three points and three rebounds.
— Justin Holiday and Aziz N’Diaye, the other starters, and reserve forward Darnell Gant combined for 13 points and 10 rebounds.
— C.J. Wilcox hasn’t been the same since the staph infection in his right hip last week forced him to miss the USC game. In each of his past two outings, he’s played just four minutes. Tonight was the first game the redshirt freshman has been held scoreless.
— Walk-ons Brendan Sherrer and Antoine Hosley made an appearance in the final minute.
— Begrudgingly Romar has embraced the 2-3 zone. He won’t say it’s a staple in the defense, but he admits he’ll use it if UW is in foul trouble or if an opponent is hurting them inside. Tonight the Huskies used it and it proved to be the difference in the second half. Still Romar said Washington is primarily a man-to-man defensive team.
— Washington is 3-0 in Pac-10 for the first time since 2005.
— And finally, kudos to the crowd. It wasn’t a sellout – just 9,692 – but it was the best atmosphere this season. I didn’t see it, but was told someone brought a sign that read: “?Donde esta Ernesto?” That’s so good.